From Battle Creek Neighborhoods (South): City Council will vote on a zoning and neighborhood plan change on November 6ththat will directly affect you and all the neighborhoods in Austin because of the precedent that will be set for Council members to bypass your neighborhood plan, the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) and Imagine Austin. If the St. Elmo's Lofts development passes, the next incompatible use zoning case may be a 4 story high mixed use building down the street in your neighborhood because all basic zoning principles are going down the drain.
Rest of their letter under the cut:
City Council will vote on a zoning and neighborhood plan change on November 6ththat will directly affect you and all the neighborhoods in Austin because of the precedent that will be set for Council members to bypass your neighborhood plan, the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) and Imagine Austin. If the St. Elmo's Lofts development passes, the next incompatible use zoning case may be a 4 story high mixed use building down the street in your neighborhood because all basic zoning principles are going down the drain.
Please, help us by e-mailing City Council to tell them NO!, that you are opposed to the zoning and neighborhood plan changes for the St. Elmo's Lofts. Email all council members at once at http://www.austintexas.gov/mail/all-council-members or go online to http://nocondoshere.com/ and click on the STOP button on the screen to e-mail all Council members. Council approved this on first reading and the public hearing is closed, so the only way to reach them is with emails.
This will be the first time Council goes against Imagine Austin to allow residential Mixed-Use in an active industrial area. This is an incompatible use that goes against our neighborhood plan, the FLUM, the Imagine Austin Comprehensive plan and City staff's recommendation against the development.
A Dallas developer wants a zoning and neighborhood plan change from Light Industrial (LI) to Mixed Use (PDA-LI) to build 400 condos in a busy diverse industrial area established in 1955 at Ben White and South Congress, just north of my neighborhood, Battle Bend Springs. City staff recommends against these changes because they are against basic Austin zoning principles, the approved neighborhood plan, Imagine Austin and the FLUM.
It is inevitable that new residents will displace the businesses by complaining against typical industrial conditions such as noise, vibration, heavy truck traffic, and unsightly views like chain fences, stored cars, etc. In addition, this zoning change will set precedent for residential use in any lot in the industrial area. Please, watch a short video athttp://nocondoshere.com/ for more details.
The developer said: "It's time for the paint and pipe shops to move to Buda so that we, the developers, can make a profit. My development will set the tone for the entire industrial district to be revitalized."
The proposed development is in an interior lot. Imagine Austin and our neighborhood plan state that Mixed Use will be only along S. Congress, not in an interior lot completely surrounded by heavy active industrial uses. Our approved neighborhood plan further said that the St. Elmo industrial district should be protected and that we wanted our homes to remain affordable, no cut through traffic, and a buffer maintained between residential and industrial areas. We re-stated these in the CodeNext Community Character exercise last April.
To reply to our complaints, a council member said that it's appropriate to put mixed use development within 1/4 mile from a bus stop because that makes the development walkable. This means that single family neighborhoods could have mixed-use 1/4 mile from a bus stop without the buffers and transition zones that City planners tell us are needed. Council micromanaged from the dais and discussed ways to lower the noise, smells and vibration, like for developer to install thicker windows in the condos to reduce noise to 45db. But what about when condo residents go to the outdoor pool? What about the heavy truck traffic from industrial uses? What about the businesses that will be displaced? What about property values that will increase, causing neighbors and businesses to loose the affordability of the neighborhood?
What about allowing the creation of an isolated development that will not integrate with the neighborhood? Residents and patrons will drive into the fantasy land and shop there, not in the local coffee shop or the restaurants across the street that have been there for years. It will all be to benefit the developer. People will buy at the developer's market, stay at his hotel, and live in his condos, without being part of the neighborhood. Where is the community benefit that warrants displacing the industrial area?
It's ironic that all of this time the neighborhoods protested against Imagine Austin changing their approved neighborhood plans, and now they will have to worry about Council changing their approved plans and FLUM even if Imagine Austin and City staff are against the change. This breaks the commitment made by Council and the City when the citizens invested so much time and effort with Imagine Austin and their neighborhood plans.
20 neighbors and business owners spoke against at the first council hearing and presented over 70 signatures of neighbors and business owners opposed. Nevertheless, Council approved the changes on first reading.
The Planning Commission approved the changes because they like the development for S. Congress and because the combined neighborhood contact team sent a letter of support. However, the contact team does not represent our East Congress neighborhood. 6 of the 7 people who voted for the letter of support live in West Congress, and the one in East Congress is new to the area. All 6 who voted against live in East Congress. Only 13 people voted in an area of over 700 homes. Business owners and renters were not included. Due to misrepresentation and contact team irregularities, we have officially started the process of separating and forming our own contact team for East Congress.
Battle Bend Springs